Sleep, hypnotics and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Respir Med. 2008 Jun;102(6):801-14. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2007.12.026. Epub 2008 Mar 7.


The quality of sleep is significantly compromised in many patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and may be further diminished when certain comorbidities are present. A reduced sleep quality is associated with daytime consequences like fatigue, psychiatric problems and an impaired quality of life. Sleep induces physiologic alterations in respiratory function, which can become pathologic and may provoke or worsen hypoxemia and hypercapnia in COPD. Dyspnea, cough and excessive mucus production should be optimised to minimise causes for sleep disturbance. Pharmacological therapy may be helpful; sedatives like benzodiazepines and non-benzodiazepine benzodiazepine-receptor agonists (NBBRAs) are (equally) effective in improving sleep quality. Whether or not these hypnotics produce serious adverse respiratory effects during sleep, remains unclear due to opposing studies. Therefore, their use should be as short as possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects*
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / drug effects
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology*


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives